The Idea City Speech by Terri-Jean Bedford:
I see some former clients in the audience. Does it still hurt?)
Before anything else I want to thank Valarie Scott and Amy Lebovitch for leading this fight and for being such wonderful spokespersons in this, and other initiatives to protect women and our freedoms. They will have many important points for you to consider today.
I would also like to thank my lawyer Professor Alan Young who headed our legal team. My superhero disguised as an ordinary citizen. I would like the thank Her Honour Justice Susan Himel and the Ontario Court of appeal for striking down those monstrous laws!
Now, if I was an adversary of Prime Minister Harper, I would thank him too – for being so feckless in this matter. For those of you who may not know … ‘feckless’ is a person who is lacking in efficiency or vitality – who is unthinking and irresponsible. I really have no business commenting on his handling of the economy, his foreign policies, or what he is doing to protect the environment and so forth. But on his handling of the issues we are discussing today, I can tell you he has been a very bad boy indeed.
His government was caught totally off guard when Judge Himel’s ruling came out in September 2010. I am told they made no preparations for the release. They announced they would appeal about 3 hours after the release, and they did so without time to read it properly and consult properly. Incompetence! He fired no one for this.
Naughty Mr. Harper says unelected judges should not make laws. Six judges have told him to involve himself and that the laws are problematic to say the least. Yet the elected bad boy runs to hide behind the robes of yet more unelected judges. What does that say about him?
Does he know that these proceedings are the culmination of 4 years of a virtual public inquiry? Does he know that the findings were that the present laws create more violence against women and human trafficking than they prevent. Does he know that the judges found that there will not be much of an increase in prostitution – whatever that is – if the laws are removed?
Mr. Harper says he is against prostitution, and he vowed never to make it legal. Yet he wants to keep the current laws intact. Under the current laws prostitution is legal. Can you believe this guy?
Now we all know that pre-marital sex is also legal. Women can have sex with whomever they want, when they want. Does Mr. Harper have a problem with that? It appears he does. It seems to me that he has no problem with it, so long as she does it for free. It seems to me that he wants to control women’s bodies. If she negotiates dinner for sex, is she a criminal? Does she have to lie back and think of Harper when she has sex?
What does Mr. Harper mean when he says prostitution anyway? Does he mean sex for money? How about when I tie men up and tickle them? Is it sex? Is it legal if I do it for free? When I put men in corsets and dresses, am I a prostitute? I am sure Mr. Harper can share with us some of his acknowledged expertise in these matters. He should, because the laws he seeks to preserve are impermissibly vague in giving us the answers. That means that unelected officials, for arbitrary reasons, will decide when people’s private consenting behaviour is not legal. If anyone knows something about officials like that, it’s me.
Women are having sex for free all over town, all day, every day, anywhere they want, whenever they want, including the privacy of their own homes. The minute one red cent is exchanged she is a criminal. Why does Prime Minister Harper feel the need, the need, to have his lackeys tell me what I can and cannot do in the privacy of my bedroom with another consenting adult?
We must move away from a moral basis for legislating on this issue and towards a safety basis. We women must not lose control of our bodies and our lives. Other countries are hopefully moving forward in emancipating women. Don’t allow Mr. Harper to take us backward.
So I turn to Laureen Harper, Mr. Harper’s wife. I ask her to read the decisions and tell her elected husband what the findings were and then send the Prime Minister to me for a lesson in behaviour modification he’ll never forget. I will make a man of him.